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SWIMkids USA Staff




SWIMkids USA is lead by a group of talented and energetic professionals dedicated to your child's success in swimming, gymnastics and dance. We have redefined the "lesson" experience for thousands of children by providing a unique, creative, animated and remarkably challenging style of teaching that keep children active, smiling and safe!

Our staff has these skills:

SWIMkids USA offers your child the safest, most effective aquatic training in the world, in a warm nurturing environment.

Founder

Lana Whitehead

Lana Whitehead
President, Owner and Aquatic Instructor

Lana Whitehead has owned and operated SWIMkids USA since 1971. The swim program is the result of Lana's Master's thesis which included four research projects tested and researched at Arizona State University. Lana has authored several swimming books, articles, videos, and has lectured internationally and nationally for professional education and swim forums.

Mrs. Whitehead received a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Physiology and a Masters in Special Education, specializing in Sensory Integration and training children with disabilities, including signing to the deaf. She holds Arizona and California Teaching Certificates and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. She is certified in American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, StarGuard Lifesaving, CPR and First Aid for the Professional Rescuer and YMCA Adaptive Swimming Instruction.

Lana has been a competitive swim coach and served as a State and National USA Swimming Official. She and her team continually strive to meet higher standards in the industry by attending numerous training workshops and seminars at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, U.S. Swim School Association and the World Aquatic Baby Congress. In 2012, she was inducted into the U.S. School Association's prestigious Hall of Fame.

Melissa Sutton

Melissa Sutton
General Manager

After graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor of science in pre-med biology, Melissa went on to receive a two-year post-graduate certificate in non-profit management from Arizona State University. Melissa came to SWIMkids USA from the non-profit field, formerly granting celebrity athlete wishes at Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is also the owner of Risinger Consulting and Event planning, an event planning firm. Melissa’s other community involvement has included serving as a volunteer for the Arizona chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a former officer in the East Valley Rotary Club, a mentor for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation’s Team-In-Training program, and as an advisor for several Valley non-profit organizations through Arizona State University’s school of Non-Profit Management. In her free time, Melissa enjoys traveling, scuba diving, skiing, spending time with her husband, sons, family and friends, as well as training for marathons and triathlons while raising funds for causes close to her heart. Melissa is currently serving on the board of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona.

Staff

Alex Nelson

Alex Nelson
Aquatic Instructor

Alex Nelson became an aquatic instructor at SWIMkids USA in 2013. He has a background in music and music education, including training at Berklee College of Music, Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon. He says, "I like being a positive role model in a child's life and teaching them how to be safe in water and potentially saving his/her life." He also likes to run, workout, do yoga, travel, play music solo/with a band, and play live shows.

Alma Blanco

Alma Blanco
Gym, Dance, and Aquatic Instructor

After graduating from Hamilton High School, Alma Blanco began teaching swim, dance, and gymnastics with SWIMkids USA. She is looking forward to tailoring her skills at beauty school, then going on to study nursing at a community college. As a SWIMkids USA alum, Alma says "The best part of working with children is getting to know each and every one of them and being able to make an impact, no matter how big or small." The fluent Spanish-speaker enjoys spending free time with her family, listening to music, playing with her dog, and being outdoors.

Angie Bagnoli

Angie Bagnoli
Executive Assistant, Aquatic Instructor and Booking Manager

Angie Bagnoli Has worked for SWIMkids USA both as an aquatics instructor and as a member of our customer service team since 2010. In 2012, she has also became our executive assistant. Prior to her time working here, she spent two years working at a daycare facility. Being a mom of a toddler keeps her busy when she's not here.

Annette Bailey

Annette Bailey
Booking Manager and Retail Manager

Annette Bailey, SWIMkids USA Front Desk Superstar and Retail Coordinator Extraordinaire, joined SWIMkids USA in 1999. She was born in Cedar City, Utah and served a Latter Day Saints mission in England for two years. Annette brings many years of customer service experience to SWIMkids USA. She attended beauty school and was a hair stylist for many years. Then she and her husband owned a Dunkin Donuts for sixteen years and a Blimpie’s for six years.

In her free time, Annette dabbles in real estate, goes fishing and watches sports. She is very proud of her four children and eight grandchildren. She loves life and working here. "Working with children makes me very happy."

Ashley Cissell

Ashley Cissell
Aquatic Instructor

Joining us in 2013 after learning people skills by managing a yogurt shop, Ashley Cissell works as an aquatic instructor. She even graduated from SWIMkids USA and swam for our affiliate Desert Thunder Aquatic Club and Chandler High School, as well as playing water polo for a year. She loves being around kids: "They help me stay positive; they are just a joy to be around." Sleeping is her favorite free time activity.

Brandon Whitehead

Brandon Whitehead
Director of Training, Coach, Aquatic Instructor and Deck Manager

After growing up in the Valley of the Sun, Brandon Whitehead joined the family business and began teaching for SWIMkids USA in 1990. Brandon served two years on a church mission in West Virginia and then graduated from Mesa Community College and from RSSA as a Certified Nursing Assistant. He is certified by USA Swimming as a coach, by the U.S. Swim School Association and by StarGuard in CPR and in lifeguarding. Currently at SWIMkids USA, he is the Director of Training, a swim instructor, deck manager and swim team coach. Married in 1999, Brandon and his wife have a handsome son. When Brandon lost his first son to leukemia in 2006, he and his family established Blake’s Miracle Foundation to create something positive from the loss. In his free time, Brandon enjoys riding his ATV and playing his XBOX.

Britt Kimball

Britt Kimball
Creativity Specialist and Aquatic Instructor

At an early age, Britt Kimball remembers taking summer swim lessons in Scottsdale and wanting to be a swim instructor. She went to Rice University in Houston, where she majored in Sociology and Behavioral Sciences. She took life guarding as a Physical Education class and worked for three summers at the YMCA and at a backyard swim school. Following her interest in event planning, she worked for the Old Pecan Street Festival in Austin, the Tempe Festival of the Arts, and the Arizona Hospitality Expo. In 1999, she received her Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and in 2003, she became a Certified Festival and Event Executive. She joined SWIMkids USA in 2004 as a swim instructor and became the creativity specialist. She is currently studying to be an occupational therapist at A.T. Still University in Mesa. She loves children's energy, enthusiasm and frankness, and loves to be creative in order to help her students any way she can. For instance, she paints her toenails bright colors to keep her students attention underwater. When she's not studying, Britt enjoys family time with her two daughters, doing crafts, and being active.

Bryan Crane

Bryan Crane
Head Deck Manager and Aquatic Instructor

Bryan started in September 2003 as Aquatic Director and is currently an aquatic instructor and Head Deck Manager. Since 1991, Bryan has served as a swim coach, pool manager and Aquatics Director at many organizations, as well as assistant coach for Desert Thunder Aquatic Club. Bryan completed studies in Kinesiology at Whitworth College in Spokane, WA. Bryan’s passion is to see children develop from infancy through swim team so they can develop a life-long love for the water as he did. Bryan swam competitively in high school and college and now swims on the Master’s team he started. Bryan is also an avid road and mountain biker who enjoys spending time with his family playing on the trampoline, barbequing, cooking s’mores over a backyard campfire and just relaxing with a fun movie.

Bryce Whitehead

Bryce Whitehead
Head Coach, Deck Manager and Aquatic Instructor

Bryce Whitehead has worked for SWIMkids USA since 1997, taking a break in order to fulfill a two-year mission in Peru. He has been a swim instructor, a deck manager and Head Coach of Desert Thunder Elite and our SWIMteam USA. Bryce graduated with his BA in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2011.

Brynn Larson

Brynn Larson
Aquatic Instructor

With six years of nannying under her belt, as well as lifeguard and secretary experience, Brynn Larson came to teach aquatics at SWIMkids USA in July 2013. Right now, she is studying at Chandler Gilbert Community College, and she plans to pursue child development in the future. Four "very crazy" nephews keep her on her toes, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. "You never know what to expect from children, which makes everyday fun and different," she says. Brynn recently traveled to Nicaragua to do humanitarian work, and she loves to hike, swim, and run in her free time.

Caolan Head

Caolan Head
Aquatic Instructor and Customer Service Representative

Caolan Head began teaching swim and gym, as well as helping out with SWIMkids USA's customer service in 2013. After competing with the water polo and swim teams at his high school, Caolan studied anthropology at Northern Arizona University, and minored in museum studies and art history. "Children are our future, they represent the unlimited capability of humanity, either for good or bad," he said. When he isn't at SWIMkids USA, Caolan enjoys eating out with friends, shopping, reading, writing or training in karate.

Chantel Hannah

Chantel Hannah
Aquatic Instructor and Customer Service Representative

Bringing years of aquatic experience, Chantel Hannah came aboard in 2012 as an aquatic instructor and customer service representative. During junior and senior high school, she swam with our affiliate Desert Thunder Aquatic Club. She worked five years at the City of Mesa as head swim coach, swim instructor and lifeguard. She says, “The best part of working with kids are the crazy things that they say and how excited they become when they pass a level.” In her free time, she likes to go to the gym and spend time with her family.

Chet Lake

Chet Lake
Director of Aquatics, Deck Manager, Coach and Aquatic Instructor

Joining SWIMkids USA in 2008, Chet now serves as the Aquatics Director, as well as deck manager, coach and aquatics instructor. He immediately puts into action what he learns in his Kinesiology classes at Arizona State University. Chet enjoys teaching children to be safe in the water, and finds value in facilitating their learning, growth and success.

Clarissa Goolsby

Clarissa Goolsby
Dance and Gym Instructor

In 2013, Clarissa Goolsby joined SWIMkids kids USA as a dance and gym instructor; she also works with kids at Radio Disney. She’s been dancing since she was five and is currently a dance major at Scottsdale Community College. She says, “I love being able to make someone's day. I think it's great that we get to inspire and mold them into something truly amazing. It's all so rewarding,” about teaching kids. She also enjoys hiking and relaxing with friends and family.

Crystal Hannah

Crystal Hannah
Aquatic Instructor and Customer Service Representative

After teaching, coaching, and lifeguarding for seven years for the City of Mesa, Crystal Hannah joined SWIMkids USA as a customer service representative and aquatic instructor. She swam competitively with Mesa High School and with our affiliate Desert Thunder Aquatic Club in middle and high school; her favorite strokes are backstroke and freestyle. In her free time, she likes to spend time with family and doing crafts.

Cyrena Allen

Cyrena Allen
Business Systems Lead and Booking Manager

Cyrena has worked at SWIMkids USA since 2008, serving as the Assistant Business Manager, a booking manager and gym/dance instructor. While growing up, Cyrena danced for 16 years total and five competitively. She enjoys spending time with her six nephews and two nieces. Cyrena also has ninja-like reflexes and has caught a fish with her bare hands while camping.

Diana Moreno

Diana Moreno
Child Care

Starting in 2013, Diana Moreno began providing child care at SWIMkids USA for staff. She is also trained as a hair stylist. She loves being with kids: "I like working with kids because every day is a new experience with them." In her free time, she plays soccer as much as she can.

Elizabeth Ashe

Elizabeth Ashe
Aquatic Instructor

Elizabeth started working at SWIMkids USA in 2011 in the pool. Before joining us, Elizabeth had many different jobs, some of which involved working with children, including the Cubhouse at Bashas’ and the Sears Portrait Studio. According to Elizabeth: The biggest difference between here and the portrait studio is that "After the kids stop crying, I don’t have to try to make them look good." Elizabeth also taught ballroom dancing at Fred Astaire. Elizabeth looks forward to starting a family with her husband, Nick.

Erin Boelter

Erin Boelter
Aquatic Instructor

Bio coming soon.

Eva Brocki

Eva Brocki
Gym Instructor

Eva Brocki was born in the Czech Republic and came to the United States in 1998. In high school, she participated in volleyball and gymnastics. She worked as a nanny for seven years and now works as a preschool teacher. She joined SWIMkids USA in 2008 as a gym instructor. She says that "working with children is her passion. I like to see their faces when they accomplish a new skill or move up." She has a son and likes to work out at the gym and eat healthy.

Jay Wimmer

Jay Wimmer
Gym Instructor

Jay Wimmer joined SWIMkids USA in 2012 as a gym instructor, bringing seven years of gymnastic experience including competition. Jay says, "The best part about working with children is that the environment is always changing, no two classes are ever the same which keeps it fun. Every child has their own personality and brings it with them to class. It also is preparing me for when I have my own children." He is currently attending Arizona State University, possibly to major in Russian. He also likes to model, act, hang out with his friends, and play board games. Watch out - he's extremely competitive when it comes to board games.

Jesse Dickerson

Jesse Dickerson
Maintenance Engineer, Coach and Aquatic Instructor

Jesse has been with SWIMkids USA since 2004, during which he has been maintenance engineer, swim instructor, deck manager, and coach. Recently, he has renewed his training as a Certified Pool and Spa Operator. Jesse is fluent in Spanish after serving a church mission in Dominican Republic. Outside of work, Jesse enjoys fishing and rafting. He has successfully navigated more than 25 class IV rapids (with one swim) and over 100 class III rapids. He and his wife are the proud parents of two young swimmers.

Justin Richardson

Justin Richardson
Aquatic Trainer, Safety Specialist, Deck Manager and Aquatic Instructor

Justin has been working with SWIMkids USA since 2010, where he has worked as a swim instructor, deck manager, and trainer. Prior, Justin was a swim coach and a lifeguard for the city of Scottsdale for two years.

Katie Lachvayder

Katie Lachvayder
Gym and Dance Instructor

Katie Lachvayder danced at a dance studio for 18 years, dancing competitively for 8 years including in high school and now in college at Grand Canyon University studying dance education. She has done choreography for seven years. She joined SWIMkids USA as a gym and dance instructor in 2012. "Everyday is different, which makes working with them more fun," she says about working with kids.

Katie-Lee Faulkner

Katie-Lee Faulkner
Creativity Intern

Katie-Lee became SWIMkids USA's first marketing intern the summer in 2013. She is currently studying Public Relations at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. When she isn't interning or studying, Katie-Lee enjoys going to concerts, playing the ukulele and cuddling with her cat. After graduation, she plans to travel around the world and explore other cultures.

Lance Whitehead

Lance Whitehead
Accounting Manager

Lance Whitehead has been working for SWIMkids USA since 1995. As the eldest son of owner and founder, Lana Whitehead, Lance is THE original student for SWIMkids USA’s famous Swim-Float-Swim sequence that has helped to keep so many children safe and swimming happily.

When you come in during the holidays you will notice how wonderfully decorated the front desk is. Thanks to Lance’s creativity and hard work, SWIMkids USA becomes a holiday wonderland respective the seasonal holiday. Lance takes great joy in seeing the kids’ faces light up with excitement at the extraordinary decorations.

Lance is the eldest of three boys. Lance’s mother, Lana, is the founder and owner of SWIMkids USA, established in 1971.

Leah Wilcock

Leah Wilcock
Aquatic Instructor and Deck Manager

Leah is one of the fresh faces you will see here at SWIMkids USA, she started work in March 2012. Leah has been swimming competitively since she was 5 years old, through the city, Mesa Aquatics Club, and on the varsity team at Mountain View for all four years of High School. This love of the water led her to become a lifeguard, teaching swim lessons and training junior guards which, in turn, brought her here as an aquatic instructor and assistant deck manager. Leah is currently a student at Mesa Community College, working on a major in Early Childhood Education. She says: "I love to be around kids and watching them improve with their swimming skills."

Lehua Selzer

Lehua Selzer
Aquatic Instructor

Bio coming soon.

Matt Jordan

Matt Jordan
Director of Performance Arts, Gym and Aquatic Instructor

Matt Jordan joined the SWIMkids USA family in June of 2007. He has taught in the gym department, in the pool, briefly worked on the front desk and currently is a deck manager. He began coaching gymnastics in December of 2003 at Southwest Gymnastics where he himself trained. Having done gymnastics since the age of 5, he is proud to say that he accomplished several milestones such as participating in many state and regional championship competitions as well as attending the national championships twice. When Matt began going to school at Arizona State University, where he later completed a degree studying Sociology, he joined the cheer squad for two years. Following those two years Matt joined the mascot program and played a role as Sparky for the second half of his college career. He currently works with the Cardinals football club as game day entertainment and has a role in community relations in addition to his devotion to SWIMkids.

Marie Carter

Marie Carter
Gym Program Assistant and Gym & Aquatic Instructor

Marie has been charming the hearts of children and parents alike here at SWIMkids USA since January of 2011. A job in the water was only natural after being a swimmer for 12 years. Prior to saving lives as an aquatic instructor in our pools, Marie saved lives as a lifeguard at Big Surf. Marie has always been a very active person, she did cheer for six years, tumbling, and dance. This lead her to teach cheer and dance for four years which translates well into teaching somersaults and back flips in our gym program. Marie is still as active as ever and in her free time she can often be found at the gym working out or doing yoga. She loves the weather in Arizona because it allows her to spend time outside hiking the trails or wakeboarding at the lake. You might start to see Marie outside of her role as an instructor, as she just finished her training to be an assistant deck manager. Marie is currently a student at MCC and plans to transfer to ASU to receive her bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. Her love of the Spanish language led her to study abroad for a summer in Spain!

Nathan Askins

Nathan Askins
Aquatic Instructor, Deck Manager and Customer Service Representative

Nathan Askins joined SWIMkids USA is 2012 after working at Lifetime Fitness as a sports and camp counselor and serving a volunteer mission in Brazil where he learned Portuguese. You will see his smiling face at the front desk and in the pool or hear his voice answering the phone. He is currently studying business and accounting at Mesa Community College, and playing the bass guitar for fun. He loves working with kids of all ages.

Sami White

Sami White
Aquatic Instructor, Deck Manager and Customer Service Representative

Sami has worked at SWIMkids USA since 2010 in the pool and as a deck manager. Currently Sami is studying to become an ultrasound technician. Ever enthusiastic, Sami loves when she can pass on her knowledge of swimming and passion for life to her students.

Sarah Cherry

Sarah Cherry
Director of Scheduling, Booking Manager and Aquatic Instructor

After working as a nanny and at Little Gym, Sarah Cherry joined SWIMkids USA in 2006. She took an 18 month leave of absence to live in Latvia in Eastern Europe where she learned Latvian. She works as the Director of Scheduling as well as at the front desk and in the pool. According to Sarah, "Children offer an exciting and fresh perspective on life and keep the child alive in me." She is nearing completion of her Bachelor's Degree from Arizona State University in Family Services and Human Development. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband and daughter.

Seth Wilcock

Seth Wilcock
Aquatic Specialist, Deck Manager and Aquatic Instructor

Joining SWIMkids USA in 2012 as an aquatic instructor, Seth Wilcock enjoys teaching and improving self-confidence. He brings people skills from customer service and serving opportunities and from his volunteer mission to South Carolina. He is working on a degree in business finance and plays the drums in a local band.

Shana Edmundson

Shana Edmundson
Gym and Dance Instructor

Shana started working at SWIMkids USA as a dance instructor in 2003. Since then, she has worked in nearly every department, teaching dance, gymnastics, swimming, and coaching. As a child, Shana began swimming at three years old and dancing at seven. She spent eight years competing in gymnastics and two years competing in swimming & diving. With her prolific dance experience, Shana is proficient in Tap, Jazz, Ballet/Pointe in both the French and Russian/Vaganova styles, Modern, Musical Theater and Hip Hop. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater Arts - Dance and a minor in business management. She has three wonderful children: a Marine, an Army Ranger, and a SWIMkids USA dancer/swimmer.

About working with children, she says, "The innocence of children reminds me there are many good things in life and I should enjoy each and everyday. Their bold and sometimes frightening honesty reminds me to be honest and true to myself and others. There are so many things to learn from children. It's important to stop what we're doing, and take the time to watch, listen, learn and of course, LAUGH!!!".

Shaunna Risinger

Shaunna Risinger
Director of Customer Experience, Booking Manger and Aquatic Instructor

SWIMkids USA had the good fortune of hiring Shaunna Risinger in 2004. She serves as the Director of Customer Experience as well as a booking manager and aquatic instructor. Shaunna graduated from Arizona State University in family studies and human development in 2012. After competitively diving in high school, she worked in customer service and as a firefighter for the Grand Traverse County Fire Department. In her free time, Shaunna loves doing fun things with her family.